07 July 2017

Bradley Lowery sadly lost his battle with cancer today: Following the tragedy, agony aunt Deidre Sanders pays tribute to his incredible parents

LITTLE Bradley Lowery packed more into his six years than most of us do in a lifetime.

He won over hearts all round the world and that smile of his lit up whole stadiums packed with thousands.

Brave Bradley Lowery has died aged six as he loses battle with cancer

And it’s not hard to see where the lad got his incredible spirit – parents Gemma and Carl have shown unwavering courage and boundless love for their little boy from Day One.

Few of us can imagine the agony of losing a child and the Lowerys are brokenhearted but they have so much to be proud of, and I’m sure will find comfort in a while from knowing their son’s short life was a triumph and an inspiration to so many.

Bradley suffered from a rare and terrible condition – neuroblastoma, a form of cancer which affects babies and small children.

Few live beyond the age of five.

Yet the youngster rose above the ravages of this terrible disease – always ready with a smile despite the pain he was in.

Bradley was first diagnosed when he was just 18 months old.

Bradley Lowery with parents Carl and Gemma during the red carpet arrivals for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016
PA:Press Association

He beat the disease that time but it returned in July 2016 when he was five.

Gemma and Carl poured their energies into raising funds for him to receive cutting-edge treatment in the US and his story captured hearts around the world.

They quickly raised the £700,000 needed but also motivated people all around the world to send Bradley 315,000 Christmas cards.

Their determination to fill Bradley’s life – no matter how short – with joy and press on with quiet dignity no matter what the setbacks can inspire us all.

Bradley Lowery with his mother Gemma in May, 2017
PA:Press Association
Bradley Lowery is held by Jermain Defoe of Sunderland in February, 2017
Getty Images

They encouraged his passion for football – and who can forget seeing his little face transformed with delight as Sunderland star Jermain Defoe hoisted him lovingly in his arms to the roar of the crowd?

How deeply proud Gemma and Carl must have been when Bradley then got to be the England team mascot as Defoe returned to the Lions side and scored a goal.

His story really does have the touch of a little angel.

And all the while Gemma and Carl had to live with the fear that they would lose Bradley.

They carried themselves with awe-inspiring dignity but in April they received the devastating news that the innovative treatment they had fundraised for so desperately wasn’t working for Bradley.

Bradley Lowery has touched the hearts of the nation and his legacy will live on forever
Getty Images

They set themselves a new challenge of seeing Bradley through to his sixth birthday in May, and Gemma bravely said they were committed to continue making memories for Bradley – and indeed for themselves and all of us.

And what an amazing memorial this little lad has left.

There is that fantastic cheery smile few of us will ever forget, plus Gemma and Carl succeeded in their secondary aim of raising the profile of neuroblastoma, so we are all far more aware of this tragic disease.

The surplus from the money raised for Bradley’s treatment is going into the Bradley Lowery Foundation to support others going through the same ordeal.

Goodbye little Bradley. You have left a huge hole in our hearts but also an amazing legacy.

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